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Eva Joly bids farewell

Eva Joly announced at a press conference this afternoon that she is stepping down as special advisor to the Special Prosecutor’s Office in the investigation into potential criminal activity in connection with the meltdown. This is effective immediately.

Mme Joly intends to run for the presidency in France — hence this change. Originally she had planned to step down at the end of the year, so this comes a couple of months ahead of schedule.

For those who don’t know, Eva Joly is a Norwegian-French magistrate and one of the most highly regarded corruption hunters in the world. In late winter 2009 she took the Icelandic nation by storm when she appeared on Silfur Egils and spoke of her suspicions that extensive criminal activity had taken place in the advent to the bank collapse. Amidst intense pressure from the Icelandic public, the government appointed her a special advisor in the investigation into the collapse.

Mme Joly has always claimed that the investigation would take many years and that the Icelandic public must remain patient [so difficult!]. She has come under intense fire from the more right-wing sections of society [read: those in whose interest it is to suppress any investigation], but is very popular with the liberals. Last year, I interviewed her for this blog here.

At the press conference today Mme Joly reiterated that it is natural for an investigation of this caliber to take time, and that people must be patient. She also said that she has full confidence in the Office of the Special Prosecutor to conclude the investigation, but recommended that it seek the counsel of foreign experts.

I wasn’t at this particular press conference, but in about an hours time am headed out to another that Mme Joly and Björk have called jointly, to discuss the current status of the Magma affair. Eva Joly has publicly declared her support for those who strongly oppose the Magma sale [if you’re confused, see here and here]. I’m not sure whether anything new will come out of this press conference — last I knew, a second committee appointed to examine the sale concluded, as before, that no laws had been broken when Magma of Canada set up a Swedish shelf company for the sole purpose of acquiring control of the Reykjanes geothermal fields for up to 130 years.

It’s so incredibly distressing and discouraging. The sense of powerlessness can be overwhelming, at times — this feeling that the bastards will win, after all, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. It will be interesting to see if the press conference does anything to change this feeling — after all, Eva Joly has been infusing the Icelandic nation with hope since winter last year, so perhaps she still can.

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  • Øystein - Norway October 13, 2010, 4:38 pm

    Hi Alda – It seems that Iceland will be an important experience for the election of the next president of France, as both Eva Joly and Dominique Strauss-Kahn run for the election.

  • sylvia hikins October 13, 2010, 11:48 pm

    So who will now take her place? Do you share her confidence in the Office of the Special Prosecutor?
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • Rik Hardy October 13, 2010, 11:54 pm

    The advice which needs to be taken most seriously from Mme Joly is the advice about seeking the counsel of foreign experts.
    For the last year or so, she effectively WAS the counsel of foreign experts, and so, with her gone, we are back to the counsel of uncle Joi and auntie Helga, along with their friend who is a lawyer and their cousin who is a high court judge and their dog who is an expert on treason, and their cat, who is an expert on international fraud and their parrot who is an expert on the Independent Party and its bid to become the next corrupt government of Iceland.
    Perhaps Dominique Strauss-Kahn, if he fails to defeat Eva Joly, will, as a consolation prize, be given the joint presidency of the new European Dominion of Iceland, along with Doddson, because of his immaculate record of never being found guilty of anything – ever.
    Meanwhile, Eva Joly will slowly become just a fond memory, as the corruption in French society occupies all of her free time and saps all her energy.

    Can anyone cheer Alda and me up?

  • alda October 13, 2010, 11:58 pm

    @ Sylvia — I have no premise on which to base such confidence, but in conversation with Mme Joly today I learned that she feels confident leaving the team to its own devices now. She has also recommended that they consult with foreign experts, and like Rik, I hope they do. And I think they will.

    @ Rik — I’ve just put up a lengthy post about today, but there are other things that transpired that cheered me up immensely. One of those is the planned establishment of a centre here in Iceland called the Eva Joly Institute for Justice and Democracy. I’ll have to reserve that for a subsequent post, though.

  • Rik Hardy October 14, 2010, 12:01 am

    Hey, Alda! I’m cheered-up already!
    Thanks!

  • kevin oconnor,waterford,ireland October 14, 2010, 4:39 am

    Of course Iceland will be transformed failing that a Dutch and British invasion fleet will take over to get the €5 billion (As in WWII when the British invaded to prevent Icelanders learning fluent German and then the Yankees took over in 1941 and stayed till 2006 to prevent you learning fluent Russian, then dropped you like a discarded toy it was bored with.)

    So for 2 tortuous years you stood alone ignored by the world but your Banks went into the stratosphere of success becoming 10 times your GDP and Iceland became so much more than Cod,Bjork and a chain of supermarkets in the UK.

    But now with the imminent melting of the ice cap and new shipping routes to China plus all billions of barrels of oil and gas and arguments between Norway,Russia,Canada,Greenland(Denmark),Nited States about who owns the North Pole relax you are in the combat zone your problems are over.

    Ps I almost forgot maybe the Chinese will come for another visit.

    PPs If the Arctic ice cap melts because we burn hydrocarbons surely that would be an argument for not drilling the Arctic, Oh never mind what do I know.

  • kevin oconnor,waterford,ireland October 14, 2010, 4:52 am

    @Rik Hardy yes I can cheer you and Alda up. You could have me ruling Iceland, Hmmmm Dave’s not that bad after all ha ha.

  • Peter London/Krakow October 14, 2010, 7:01 am

    I sorry, but Eva Joly was simply a PR spoke person for Iceland. Besides praising Iceland for being just so *good* , what did she do in the way of actually prosecuting anyone?

  • D_Boone October 14, 2010, 7:51 am

    Sigh we are 2 years on, three since the crash was inevitable. All around the world people who were involved in shady scams uncovered by the crisis have been investigated, charged, and sentenced. In Iceland what has happened to far more overt malfeasance that bankrupted a country? Well XXXX all actually given its absolutely blatant nature. It does not inspire confidence in its citizens and none at all in overseas observers.
    * Justice has not only got to be done but has to be seen to be done.
    * Justice delayed is justice denied.

  • idunn October 14, 2010, 9:27 am

    I’m sorry to see Ms. Joly go, although certainly wishing her the best with her future endeavors. With luck the course she has charted for Iceland will be seen through by others.

    I’d also quite agree with her regarding Magma. It is patently obvious that this scheme could only be done through subterfuge, and if technically no laws were broken they might as well have been. If someone can do this and get away with it, of what use are any laws? AND if that the case, then who says one has to pay any attention to special committees and their opinions?

  • Rik Hardy October 14, 2010, 12:02 pm

    @Peter London/Krakow
    I’m under no illusions about what Mme Joly actually achieved.
    As they say, talk is cheap – although Joly was, in fact, expensive.
    Perhaps a lot of it was indeed PR, but she did point the finger in the right directions, and continues to do so, while others try to create huge smoke screens to cloud her vision.
    At any rate, I, for one, have learned to look for criminal activity whenever something gets in the way of normal investigation.
    The news about Luxembourg and the UK holding things up here, while they dither and procrastinate with the documentation our Olafur has requested, is a typical case in point.
    Who is telling them to delay things, and how much did he have to pay them?
    A depressing scenario.

    @kevin,
    Ólöf Nordal was asked on Silfur Egils last Sunday if Iceland was, in fact, ungovernable. Her answer completely missed the point and she just reiterated the fact that the country lacked strong, effective leadership – as if her Party had proven for the last 20 years that it knew how to govern…
    So your kind offer to rule Iceland would probably be your undoing.
    I really wouldn’t advise anyone to try it, actually.
    You’d need to be mad.

  • Bromley86 October 14, 2010, 4:06 pm

    >The news about . . . the UK holding things up here, while they dither and procrastinate with the documentation our Olafur has requested, is a typical case in point.

    Do you remember what that was about? I don’t remember seeing anything about the UK hindering the investigation, but I’ve only been looking at English-language sites.

  • Rik Hardy October 14, 2010, 6:46 pm

    @Bromley
    Well, for example, “Iceland’s special prosecutor’s office and the U.K. Serious Fraud Office carried out house raids in eight locations in Iceland and four in the U.K.”… last January “as part of a probe into the dealings of Exista hf.”
    The results of those raids presumably include some evidence or other –
    evidence which must surely be getting pretty cold after nine months…
    Isn’t that dithering?
    Still, as Alda says, we must expect to have to be patient. But it’s tough when people feel that the guys behind the current mess are still flourishing and appear to be as arrogant as ever.

  • alda October 14, 2010, 10:33 pm

    @ Rik — I, for one, am not that pessimistic, and I am inclined to have faith in those carrying out the investigations. EPI and I have been immersed in watching The Wire (easily the best TV series ever produced, just fantastic) and in one series the powers-that-be wanted to blow the whistle in an ongoing investigation, in order to make the police look good. The people conducting the wire taps (and the investigation) were strongly opposed because, in blowing the whistle too early, they would ruin the entire investigation and all that had been worked for, i.e. sacrificing greater interest for short-term gain. In the end, that’s what, in fact, happened.

    Eva Joly has always been very clear on the fact that the investigation would take 4-5 years and that we should not expect too much, too soon. With such a complex investigation and threads leading this way and that, I can well imagine that, in blowing the whistle too soon, they would not be able to make the best case. If Eva Joly had said that we might expect results after a year, and then it didn’t happen, I would begin to despair. But as it is, she has always been upfront with the timing — and that’s why (among other things) I trust that they’re doing the right thing.

  • Bromley86 October 14, 2010, 11:27 pm

    Thanks Rik. Had a look at that Bloomberg article and it looks like you’re mixing things up, in that it doesn’t mention anything about the UK withholding info.

    As to dithering, perhaps. Or as Alda say, maybe they’re building a case. The other possibility is that they decided no crime was committed by Exista re. JJB Sports.

  • Rik Hardy October 15, 2010, 8:18 am

    No mixing up, Bromley; just remembering a news report a few days ago which said that our investigative authorities had still not received the results of the searching of premises in Luxembourg and the UK, and that the delay was hampering the progress of their own investigations.
    The possible exposure of alleged market manipulation by certain prominent UK entrepreneurs might just conceivably have led them to apply their influence in order to clog the wheels of such investigative processes, but I certainly wasn’t trying to imply that the UK as a nation was attempting to hold things up. We’re talking individuals here, and my loose application of the term, “UK”, was meant in the same way as one might refer to one of the British football teams – or market-manipulation cabals. The Exista/JJB Sports thing is just another related example which is also shrouded in fog and other, more unpleasant gases.

    I really didn’t think my use of English was so impenetrable, but I am certainly aware that my conversational style doesn’t resemble the defence of a doctoral thesis very closely. I may seek help for that in due course.

    @Alda
    I am not by nature a pessimistic person, but I know I do play devil’s advocate sometimes. It’s my way of being prepared for the worst, if it should happen, as well as trying to see as clearly as possible the obstacles in the way of attempting to prevent the worst from happening at all. I think everything you say is true – I just allow myself to have the occasional fit of impatience.

    For example, the devil’s advocate in me says that although Eva Joly has been upfront with her timing, the tiny awareness just won’t go away that she has given herself a pretty broad time frame, and, after that, perhaps not many people will remember what her original forecast was.
    To exaggerate the point, what if I were to promise to end world poverty in 20 years. Would anybody remember that promise after 20 years? Would I even care myself after all that time, maybe by then well into a cosy life of retirement?
    But, devils aside (and they hardly need my advocacy in any case), I do keep positive when there’s work to be done, and I am with you on the patience issue – at least I HOPE that they’re doing the right thing. As for TRUST, well that’s still in intensive care after the last two years, but I certainly don’t do the despair thing.
    My best wishes to everybody who cares about Iceland – it’s a miraculous country, but, boy, is there a lot of work to be done!
    I wonder how people would react if I started a series of lectures on basic morality… tomatoes and eggs come to mind…